Get Answers 2016-12-14T00:01:06+00:00
Why don’t my batteries last longer? 2016-12-09T15:35:44+00:00

Watch batteries may last year, but require little power to keep ticking. Hearing aids require more power to perform complex functions to amplify sound correctly to meet you needs and the varying listening environments you’re in throughout the day.

What are domes? 2016-12-09T16:41:36+00:00

Domes are the small plastic/rubber pieces that go on the end of your hearing aid’s receiver if you have a RIC style hearing aid. These domes come in a variety of sizes and styles. The dome size and style depends on the shape/size of your ear canal, your receiver size, and your individual hearing loss. Some people may wear the same size dome on both hearing aids, while some people may have different sizes on each hearing aid. The domes should be cleaned off with a brush in the morning, prior to wearing the hearing aids for the day.

If you need more domes, please call us at 907.789.6780!

What is a wax guard? 2016-12-09T16:41:43+00:00

A wax guard, also known as a wax trap or wax filter, prevents the permeation of earwax into the hearing aid. Wax guards are pretty similar to the sink strainer in your kitchen sink. Like blocking food from going down and clogging the drain, the wax guard blocks earwax from getting into the hearing aid components. If the guard is not in place or wax gets pushed past it, the chemical composition of earwax can damage the sensitive electronic components located inside of your hearing aid.

We recommend that you lightly brush the wax guard off with your cleaning brush each morning before wearing your hearing aids for the day. Cleaning the wax off in the morning tends to be easier as it’s had a chance to harden up overnight and is much easier to brush off than warm, pliable earwax. If the wax guard becomes full of wax the hearing aid will likely sound muffled or will not produce any sound until the wax guard is replaced with a fresh one. The frequency of changing your wax guard would depend on the amount of wax you produce. Some people may change their wax guards once every six months while others may change it every few weeks- it just depends on the individual hearing aid wearer!

If you’re running low on you wax guards give us a call at 907.789.6780!

What is a kickstand? 2016-12-09T16:41:52+00:00

Kickstands, sports locks and foots are the same thing in the hearing aid world! These thin rubber tails slip over the receivers of RIC style hearing aids to give some extra support to your hearing aid placement. The tail is tucked backwards into the concha (the bowl of your ear) to help keep the hearing aid in place in your ear. After a few days of using a new kickstand, the tail should mold itself to the shape of your ear for easy insertion. Some users may trim the tail down depending on the size of their concha. The use of a kickstand is really a personal preference – if you’re not having issues keeping your hearing aids in place, you likely don’t need a kickstand.

If you think you’d benefit from adding a kickstand to your hearing aids, or you’d like replacement kickstands, call us at 907.789.6780!

 

 

What are the different battery sizes? 2016-12-09T16:40:25+00:00

Hearing aid batteries are standardized with number and color codes to make them easy to find what you need.

Size 10 = Yellow
Size 13 = Orange
Size 312 = Brown
Size 675 = Blue

If you cannot remember your battery size, call us at 907.789.6780!

Do you sell batteries? 2016-12-09T15:40:52+00:00

Yes, we sell hearing aid batteries. Our PowerOne batteries are ordered directly from the manufacturer to ensure the freshest, longest lasting batteries possible.

We sell disposable hearing aid batteries in packages of 6 and packages of 48. We also carry rechargeable hearing aid batteries and charging units.

Stop by our Juneau office or call 907.789.6780 to purchase new hearing aid batteries!

How long will my batteries last? 2016-12-09T15:41:05+00:00

Hearing aid batteries will typically last about 5-7 days depending on the size of the battery, the model of hearing aid, the level of hearing loss, and the demands of the location where you use them. The more active your hearing aid needs to be, the more battery power it will use.

Rechargeable batteries are also available for hearing aids. Though using a rechargeable battery would include an initial purchase of a battery charger, rechargeable batteries last about 1 year (about 370 charges) before they need to be replaced. The charging unit does not need to be replaced along with the batteries.

If you’re purchasing batteries from a store, we suggest checking the expiration date prior to purchase as the batteries could have been sitting on the shelf for a while.

How can I avoid running out of batteries? 2016-12-09T15:41:17+00:00

Simple, keep a month’s supply of batteries for your hearing aids on hand, 8-10, and order more once you’re down to 8, to allow for shipping time.

We sell PowerOne batteries in packages of 6 and 48. Feel free to stop by our office Monday – Friday between 8am and 5pm or call us at 907.789.6780 to purchase batteries!

Where should I store my batteries? 2016-12-09T15:42:02+00:00

The best place to store your batteries is right where you store your hearing aid(s) at night; in a bedside table, or if you have space, in a drawer in your bathroom. That way the batteries will be there when you put your hearing aids in first thing in the morning.

We suggest keeping the batteries out of reach of small children (and dogs!) that could mistake the batteries for candy. And no, it is not a good idea to keep your batteries in the refrigerator. Condensation and moisture can harm them. Avoid extremes in temperatures too, when possible. Hearing aid batteries like room temperature!

Does my warranty cover repairs? 2016-12-09T15:33:26+00:00

Your hearing aids are covered by at least a one year manufacturer’s warranty. The length of the warranty varies by manufacturer and hearing aid model. This means, if something in your hearing aid breaks before your warranty expires, we can send your hearing aid to the manufacturer for repair, typically free of charge.

Once your warranty expires, your hearing aid can still be repaired, but it may cost money to do so. Hearing aids also come with a loss and damage warranty. If you lose or damage your hearing aids while they are still under warranty, they can be replaced one time.

Call us at 907.789.6780 to check your warranty coverage.

Where do I send my hearing aid for repair? 2016-12-09T15:33:47+00:00

Our Juneau office is staffed Monday-Friday from 8:00am-5:00pm. If you feel that something is wrong with your hearing aid, give us a call at 907.789.6780. If possible, we’ll try to troubleshoot the issue over the phone. If that doesn’t work, you can send your hearing aid to our Juneau office for servicing.

Northland Audiology & Hearing Services
8800 Glacier Hwy, #116
Juneau, Alaska 99801

How long does it take to repair a hearing aid? 2016-12-09T15:34:36+00:00

Most repairs can be done in the office within a matter of minutes. If we can’t solve the issue in our office, it’s likely an issue that needs to be resolved by the manufacturer. Since most hearing aid manufacturers are located on the east coast, we typically estimate it will take 10-14 business days to receive a hearing aid back from repair.

Do you accept insurance? 2016-12-09T15:28:27+00:00

If you plan to use medical insurance plan benefits to help pay for your hearing services and hearing instruments, it is important to know that only the testing provided by an Audiologist—not by a hearing aid dealer—can provide the diagnosis code that is required on insurance claims. (An Audiologist is the primary professional who is educated and qualified for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of individuals with hearing loss.)

At Northland Audiology & Hearing Services, we accept most major insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.

To find out what coverage you have, we recommend you read your insurance plan booklet or online document for details. You may also call your insurance plan administrator to ask about your hearing and hearing hardware benefits. If you supply us your insurance information, we may also be able to call about your coverage.

Call us at 907.789.6780 with any questions!

 

Does my insurance cover your services? 2016-12-09T15:35:07+00:00

Northland Audiology & Hearing Services is not an in-network provider. However, because the nearest in-network Audiologist is more than 500 miles away from Southeast Alaska, insurance plans will cover services at an in-network rate.

Testing: Services performed during your diagnostic hearing evaluation will be billed to the medical portion of your insurance plan. If you call your insurance to see if they cover our services, make sure you ask if diagnostic hearing evaluations are covered. Many plans do not cover routine hearing exams but do cover diagnostic hearing evaluations.

Hearing Aids: Should you decide to obtain hearing aids, the hearing aids, fitting services and any accessories you’d like to purchase will be bill to the hearing hardware portion of your insurance plan. Hearing hardware coverage is often an elected coverage, similar to dental and vision. If you call your insurance to check your benefits coverage, make sure you ask for hearing hardware coverage.

If you’d like our staff to call your insurance on your behalf to find your benefits, please let us know. Call us at 907.789.6780, we’re happy to help!

Do you accept Medicaid? 2016-12-09T15:29:29+00:00

Alaskans who are Medicaid recipients, are likely to be covered for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, including hearing aids when authorized. After we test your hearing, we will submit to the Medicaid program for approval for hearing aids if needed. As long as your coverage is current, you are unlikely to need to pay out-of-pocket for items covered by Medicaid.

What does Medicare cover? 2016-12-09T15:29:52+00:00

Medicare does not cover hearing aids or tests to determine the need for hearing aids. Medicare will also not pay on diagnostic hearing evaluations unless referred by a physician or healthcare provider for each exam. Medicare also routinely does not pay for Audiology office visits, so either you the patient, or your insurance plan will need to pay for that portion of services.

What are the types of hearing loss? 2016-12-09T14:34:12+00:00

To help you understand the different types of hearing losses, it first helps to know about how the hearing system normally works.

The anatomy of the ear is described by three main sections: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer ear includes the fleshy parts visible on the sides of the head, as well as the ear canal, which ends at the eardrum (waxed paper-like tympanic membrane.) The middle ear section lies behind the eardrum and includes a chain of three tiny middle ear bones (ossicles.) The inner ear lies deeper in the skull and includes the cochlea and the semicircular canals. Within the cochlea are special sensory cells (called hair cells, because of their appearance) that help decipher the specific pitches sent into the ear.

Normally, sound waves travel down the ear canal, transmit through the middle ear and then are sent to the inner ear, which next sends impulse signals via the auditory nerve to the brain for “processing” (interpretation) of those sounds. If any of the components are not working properly, the ability to hear well hearing can be compromised.

The Audiologist performs a diagnostic hearing evaluation to assess how well each component of the hearing system is functioning. If hearing loss is detected, it is categorized according to the part of the system that is not working correctly.

  • Conductive Hearing Loss occurs when sound doesn’t travel through the eardrum and/or chain of tiny bones (ossicles) normally. Typically something is blocking sound transmission, reducing its loudness and intensity. A person with a conductive hearing loss hears all sounds at a reduced level and may be unable to detect faint sounds.
  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss occurs when either the tiny hairs cells in the cochlea or the auditory nerve become damaged. (Such damage is typically a result of disease, injury from noise, normal aging process, or certain medicines.) Since the human body can’t regenerate sensory hair cells, once they are damaged, the hearing loss permanent. A person with this type of hearing loss may be unable to hear faint sounds and are likely to find that even when speech or other sounds are made loud enough to hear, they can still sound unclear or muffled.
  • Mixed Hearing Loss indicates that both of the previous conditions are present.
  • Central Hearing Loss occurs when the brain can no longer interpret sounds normally.
Why should I seek treatment for my hearing loss? 2016-12-09T14:34:27+00:00

If you know or suspect you have hearing loss, it makes sense to seek the facts about your hearing health status and learn what can be done about it. Your Doctor of Audiology will reviews the findings of your hearing assessment with you and explain recommend treatment options. If your hearing loss is diagnosed as a type untreatable by medications or surgical intervention, hearing aids may be the prescribed solution. If you are the type of person inclined to ignore treatment advice, it is particularly important that you also understand the ramifications of “doing nothing.”

Untreated hearing loss has considerable and far-reaching negative social, psychological, cognitive (mental/intellectual), and health effects in people of all ages. Youngsters who have even a mild or moderate untreated hearing loss encounter greater difficulties learning, developing speech, and building the important interpersonal skills necessary to foster self-esteem and succeed in school and life. Hearing loss in older adults was once viewed as a somewhat inconsequential part of aging, however research findings have changed that perspective drastically. Studies show substantial negative consequences (including increased risk of dementia, falls, hospitalizations, and diminished overall physical and mental health) tied to untreated hearing loss.

Although the brains of older adults shrink naturally with age, research indicates the rate of brain tissue loss appears to be particularly fast-tracked in adults with hearing deficits, especially in the areas of the brain that process information from sound and speech. These brain areas not only also have ties to memory and sensory integration, but they are notably involved in early stages of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

When a person can’t hear clearly and easily, they must exert increased mental efforts to try to decipher the distorted/incomplete messages the brain receives. This is taxing. When communications are difficult and become frustrating for all affected parties, the person with untreated hearing loss is likely to eventually become more isolated and withdrawn. This is a scenario that in turn is known to increase their risk factors for cognitive decline.

When hearing aids are the prescribed, they are used as a treatment that reintroduces missing sound stimuli to the brain. Optimal success for understanding/interpreting sound signals again will depend in part on the brain’s ability to “rewire” itself over time. (This process is called neuroplasticity.) According to Dr. Frank Lim, M.D., Ph.D, (foremost expert who has conducted numerous National Institute of Health-sponsored studies on brain/hearing loss interactions) “If you want to address hearing loss well, you want to do it sooner rather than later.” Research has shown that the sooner treatment begins, the easier and more likely it is that the brain can be retrained to allow better communications.

Treating hearing loss only helps make life better. The ability to stay socially connected with family and friends’ supports better overall happiness and a richer quality of life. This is threatened when untreated hearing loss interferes with the ease of social connections and activities. Studies have shown that not only do communication problems have the potential to degrade life quality, but they can also reduce overall potential for professional advancement and higher income opportunities.

Untreated hearing loss is a public health concern known to be linked to such conditions as:

  • irritability, negativism, anger
  • fatigue, tension, stress, depression
  • avoidance, withdrawal from social situations
  • social rejection, loneliness
  • reduced alertness, increased risk to personal safety
  • impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • reduced job performance and earning power
  • diminished psychological and overall health

If your Audiologist recommends treatment for your hearing loss, it is clearly in your best interest to listen, and to follow their advice for treatment since it stands to make daily life more enjoyable again, not just for you, but also for the lives of those around you!

How do I choose a hearing provider? 2016-12-09T13:31:02+00:00

Your hearing is precious and deserves the highest quality care, so it is important that you choose a Doctor of Audiology as the key provider on your hearing health team. (Look for the credentials AuD behind the name, or ask “Will an Audiologist conduct a diagnostic evaluation of my hearing?”) Audiologist providers typically work in private Audiology practices, at large hospitals, or specialty clinics affiliated with Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) physician services. By their general nature, private Audiology practices are most likely to focus on providing highly personalized, professional hearing care services.

Audiologists are the primary healthcare professionals with the expertise to evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage hearing loss. Audiologists have the medical background to perform diagnostic hearing evaluations to determine the type and extent of hearing deficits. Audiologists also have the training to recognize when hearing loss patterns and symptoms might indicate more complex medical/neurological conditions (including possible tumors, injuries etc.) that warrant referrals to other specialists for additional investigation and/or treatment.

When seeking a hearing health provider to best meet your needs, you can ask your physician or primary healthcare provider if they recommend a particular Audiologist or Audiology practice. You can contact Audiology clinics (look for the word “Audiologist” or “Audiology” in the business name) in your area to learn about and compare various services they offer. You could also ask acquaintances which hearing providers they prefer and why, but be sure to confirm that any providers you consider are Audiologists. (Because both Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dealers can fit hearing aids, the general public sometimes confuses the two or thinks they are equally trained.)

A word to the wise: Some Doctors of Audiology prefer to wear a white coat, while others may not. If a Hearing Aid Dealer who is not an Audiologist wears a white coat, there is a higher likelihood people may mistakenly assume them to be an Audiologist. It is always in your best interest to confirm credentials or to ask “Will my hearing be examined by an Audiologist?” Keep in mind that non-Audiologist Hearing Aid Dealers lack the training and expertise to diagnose hearing loss (and thus are prohibited by law from charging fees to test hearing.) Another hint: whenever you see an advertisement listing “free hearing tests,” consider that your clue that the provider is probably a Hearing Aid Dealer rather than an Audiologist.

What is the difference between an Audiologist and a Hearing Instrument Dispenser? 2016-12-09T13:31:08+00:00

Audiologists are the primary healthcare professionals with the expertise to evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage hearing loss. They can also be licensed to prescribe, fit, and dispense hearing aids when appropriate. Audiologists typically hold a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree, and must meet strict national clinical competency requirements and pass rigorous testing.

It can be unclear to the general public that there is a world of difference separating the caliber of knowledge, skills and training that Audiologists and non-audiologist Hearing Aid Dealers/Hearing Instrument Specialists must possess. Per state regulations, Alaska-licensed Audiologists are automatically “dual-licensed” as both Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dealers, however the same is not true for non-audiologist Hearing Aid Dealers. The educational requirements to qualify as a licensed Hearing Aid Dealer in Alaska are the nation’s most lax: a high school (or GED) diploma and no specialized training. Alaska law forbids non-audiologist hearing aid dealers from charging fees for any hearing tests they perform, and they are required to include the following disclaimer in all their printed advertisements: “Alaska law permits a hearing aid dealer who is not a licensed audiologist to test hearing only for the purposes of selling hearing aids; the tests given by a hearing aid dealer are not to be used to diagnose the cause of hearing impairment.”

In regards to the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of hearing loss, the medical expertise that distinguishes an Audiologist from a non-Audiologist hearing aid dealer is critical. As noted below in (Questions to ask when choosing a hearing provider), the provider type is also particularly important for someone who hopes to use their hearing aid insurance benefits to help with the purchase of hearing aids. Testing by an Audiologist will be necessary to properly establish “medical necessity” that is required for an insurance claim. This requirement cannot not be legally satisfied through the type of “free hearing test” that a licensed hearing aid dealer is allowed to perform, but rather, it can only be satisfied via a current diagnostic hearing evaluation performed by an Audiologist.

What are some good questions to ask when choosing a hearing healthcare provider? 2016-12-20T13:52:13+00:00
  • Will I be seen by a Doctor of Audiology and receive a comprehensive diagnostic hearing evaluation?
  • Will my hearing be tested in a regulation, ANSI-certified sound booth? (The sound booth should be completely sound-proof since background noise could affect test results and the accuracy of diagnosis.)
  • Is all testing equipment calibrated to strict specifications annually by certified specialists?
  • Does the hearing provider make referrals to an Otolaryngologist (ENT, also known as an Ear, Nose & Throat physician) or other specialist when an extended or complex medical condition is suspected?
  • Will the hearing health provider thoroughly review my test findings with me and explain recommended treatment options, communication strategies, self-help tips and possible amplification (hearing aid) choices if needed?
  • If hearing aids are indicated in the treatment plan, will the provider assist in selection of the most appropriate hearing devices for my particular hearing loss type, as well as taking into account my most difficult listening situations and lifestyle needs, dexterity, financial constraints, etc.? Will the provider explain to me what benefits I can realistically expect from the particular hearing aids and/or other assistive devices? Will the provider discuss technology features that can best help with my most troublesome hearing challenges? (For example, if hearing phone conversations has been difficult, will the provider discuss and/or demonstrate wireless connectivity features or other helpful options that allow me to hear phone conversations more clearly in stereo–simultaneously, in both ears?)
  • During my hearing aid fitting appointment, will I be counseled about ways to best adjust to wearing hearing aids? Will I be given verbal instructions and an instruction booklet detailing the operation and care of the new hearing devices? Does the provider normally schedule follow-up visits to monitor my progress, and to provide additional help and instructions so I can get the most benefit from using my hearing aids? Does the provider offer a trial period to help me decide which hearing aids are right for me? Does purchase of the hearing devices I am considering include a warranty for repairs and replacement if needed?
  • If I plan to use health insurance benefits to help pay for my hearing services and/or hardware, will the provider office bill my insurance carrier as a courtesy to me? If my plan coverage includes hearing aid benefits, does the hearing aid provider know that my claim requires a diagnosis code (to document “medical necessity” for hearing aids) that non-Audiologist hearing aid dealers are unqualified to determine, and will be valid only when an Audiologist tests my hearing within 6 months prior to my hearing aid purchase? If I am considering purchasing hearing aids from someone not affiliated with an Audiology practice, will the hearing dealer be helpful and advise me to first receive a diagnostic hearing evaluation from an Audiologist so that I can meet the requirements for my insurance benefit claim? A word to the wise: Be skeptical of any hearing aid dealers offering to file your hearing aid insurance claims if you haven’t been tested by an Audiologist beforehand. If a hearing aid dealer places a diagnosis code on a claim that did not come from a recent diagnostic hearing evaluation performed by an Audiologist, such an action is considered insurance fraud, regardless of whether the insurance administrator notices and/or initially pays on the claim.
What is a hearing aid? 2016-11-21T16:06:52+00:00

Today’s hearing aids are small, highly sophisticated digital devices (essentially high-tech miniature computers) worn in or behind the ears. Properly programmed hearing aids help make it easier for the wearer to stay connected to and enjoy high quality participation in everyday life. And now, because they incorporate features for wirelessly connecting to other ubiquitous electronics/technologies (i.e computers, tablets, smart phones, ‘aps,’ geotagging options, etc.) hearing aids are included in the trend of “electronic wearables.” Hearing aids technology is constantly evolving to help make lives better. While they may not yet include features that predict the weather or stock-market results, it is comforting to know that design engineers are constantly working on ideas to help overcome the challenges of hearing loss.

Hearing aid are made so they can be programmed according to the wearer’s specific hearing loss configuration, individual listening preferences, and connection and/or functional desires. The instruments continuously analyze the wearer’s sound environment and respond with instantaneous adjustments to optimize the wearer’s hearing advantage. They offer a myriad of features such as ‘smart learning’ tailored to the wearer’s preferences within specific noise environments, or other technologies such as geo-tagging that can be used to automatically adjust settings for a frequently encountered location (such as a favorite restaurant with poor acoustics.) Using “noise signature recognition,” lets hearing aids alter their output so that a wearer riding in a car can easily hear and converse with other occupants, whether to the side or behind the hearing aid wearer.

Physical components common to all digital hearing aids are microphones (that detect incoming sounds), a digital processing component that converts the sound waves to electrical signals, then analyses the signals and configures a conditioned response according to the sophistication of the processing chips and programmed settings, and finally, an amplifier component to increase the signal power that has been converted back into sound waves and sent into the eardrum. The programming response of the hearing aid works best when it has been individually fit taking into consideration the acoustical properties of the wearer’s ear canal.

How can hearing aids help? 2016-12-09T14:02:19+00:00

The ability to stay socially connected with family and friends supports better overall personal happiness and a richer quality of life. Not only do hearing aids help people stay connected to the world and hear every day sounds, but most importantly because they help the wearer to comprehend speech, therefore they help them communicate more easily and maintain social connections.

Untreated hearing loss has been shown to have considerable and far-reaching negative social, psychological, cognitive (mental/intellectual), and health effects in people of all ages. Youngsters with even a mild or moderate untreated hearing loss have greater difficulty learning, developing speech, and building the important interpersonal skills necessary to foster self-esteem and succeed in school and life. Hearing loss in adults used to be viewed by some as an inconsequential part of aging, however research findings have changed that perspective drastically. Studies show substantial negative consequences (including increased risk of dementia, falls, hospitalizations, and diminished overall physical and mental health) tied to untreated hearing loss.

Although the brains of aging adults shrink naturally with age, research indicates the brain tissue rate of loss appears to be fast-tracked in adults with hearing deficits, especially notable in the areas of the brain that process information from sound and speech. These areas of the brain not only have ties to memory and sensory integration, but they are also involved in the early stages of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.

When a person can’t hear clearly and easily, the increased mental efforts they must use to try to decipher distorted/incomplete messages received by the brain, is taxing. When communication is more difficult and frustrating for all affected parties, the person with untreated hearing loss eventually becomes more isolated and withdrawn, which is also known to increase their risk factors for cognitive decline.

Hearing aids magnify sound vibrations entering the ear. Surviving hair cells detect the larger vibrations and convert them into neural signals that are passed along to the brain. The greater the damage to a person’s hair cells, the more severe the hearing loss, and the greater the hearing aid amplification needed to make up the difference. However, there are practical limits to the amount of amplification a hearing aid can provide. In addition, if the inner ear is too damaged, even large vibrations will not be converted into neural signals. In this situation, a hearing aid would be ineffective.

When indicated, hearing aids are used as treatment to reintroduce missing sound stimuli to the brain. Optimal success for understanding/interpreting sound signals can depend on the brain’s ability to “rewire” itself over time (a process called neuroplasticity.) According to expert Dr. Frank Lim, M.D., Ph.D, (who has conducted numerous National Institute of Health-sponsored studies on brain/hearing loss interactions) “If you want to address hearing loss well, you want to do it sooner rather than later.” Research has shown that the sooner treatment begins, the easier and more likely it is that the brain can be retrained to allow better communications.

Do all hearing aids work the same way? 2016-12-09T14:02:47+00:00

Today’s digital hearing aid technology converts sound waves into numerical codes, similar to binary coding used by computers, and then amplifies the sound frequencies according to programmed instructions. Because the codes also include information about a sound’s needed pitch and loudness, each aid needs to be specially programmed to amplify the frequencies more than others.

Digital circuitry is now being used in all hearing aids being made today. The digital circuitry gives a hearing professional more flexibility in adjusting the aid to a user’s needs and to certain listening environments. Today’s hearing aids can be programmed to focus on sounds coming from a specific direction.

Beyond the digital technology, the design, size, amount of amplification, sound quality, ease of handling, volume control, availability of special features, and price points vary by manufacturer. The best hearing aids for you depend on your listening needs, type of hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget.

At Northland Audiology, we work with a large variety of manufacturers to ensure that hearing aids will meet your individual wants and needs.

What are realistic expectations from hearing aids? 2016-12-09T14:03:06+00:00

It’s important to develop realistic expectations about what hearing aids can and cannot do.

  • Restoring Hearing – While hearing aids can change the qualities and intensities of sounds that reach your ears, no matter how technologically advanced the hearing aids are, they cannot restore hearing to “normal.”
  • Types of Hearing Aids – Not all hearing aids perform the same with every type of hearing loss.
  • Hearing in Noise – No hearing aid can filter out all background noise, however some can reduce amplification of some types of background noises and provide the wearer more comfort in the presence of noise. Hearing aids with “directional microphones tend to work best for improving speech intelligibility in the presence of background noise.
  • Understanding Speech – You should expect to understand speech easier.
  • Sounds – Hearing aids properly programmed for your unique hearing loss should allow you to hear soft sounds easily, but to not amplify loud sounds to an uncomfortable level.
  • Each Hearing Loss is Individual – Do not expect that your friend’s style or brand of hearing aid is necessarily the best solution for your loss.
  • Family Doctor – Do not expect your family doctor to have expert knowledge about hearing loss and solutions, hearing aid brands, models, etc. Less that 15% even screen for hearing loss.
What brands of hearing aids do you carry? 2016-12-09T15:38:16+00:00

Northland Audiology & Hearing Services the top brands of hearing aid and hearing accessories in order to provide our patients with a wide range of hearing healthcare solutions. We work with GN ReSound, Siemens, Widex, Starkey, Phonak, Rexton, Unitron and Interton.

Are new types of hearing aids available? 2016-12-09T14:03:46+00:00

Previously, new ‘generations’ of hearing aids came out about every 5 years or so. Now, with advances in technology, manufacturers are releasing new generations every 15-24 months. Though major changes may not be as noticeable from one generation to the next, after 2 or 3 new generations of hearing aids you can expect significant improvements and technological advances.

Which hearing aid will work best for me? 2016-12-09T14:04:12+00:00

Determining which hearing aids are the best choice for you involves a number of factors and may include a test drive! You provider not only considers which models are the most appropriate for your particular hearing loss type and severity, but also will want to know some details about your lifestyle, needs, and preferences. What are your most challenging listening situations? Does this hearing aid model have a more comfortable sound quality for you? How about fit and comfort? Have you any dexterity issues that need to be considered? Are you likely to want to control how things sound? Do you prefer the hearing aids adjust automatically with no need for adjustment by you?

Hearing aids are only one part of a responsible approach to addressing hearing loss. More important is the quality of the testing and counseling that accompanies the purchase. No one can provide you with ideal hearing aids without first conducting thorough and accurate hearing tests and asking the right questions about your needs and lifestyle. It is estimated that half of all Americans wearing hearing aids did not receive a proper evaluation before the instruments were fit. Without the crucial information these tests provide, the likelihood of success with a given instrument is extremely low.

After your initial diagnostic evaluation, you and your Audiologist should work together to select a hearing aid that best suits your needs and budget. Style and features can affect cost, but the most expensive hearing aids may not always be the ones that are best for you.

In addition to a proper evaluation, a discussion regarding your wants, needs, lifestyle, and a discussion about realistic expectations about the performance of hearing aids is imperative. If the promises made by the dispenser seem too good to be true, they probably are!

At Northland Audiology, we believe in the importance of educating people about their hearing and their hearing aid options so that they can make informed decisions that they are comfortable with.

How can I find out if I need a hearing aid? 2016-12-09T14:04:34+00:00

If you suspect or been told you have a hearing loss, schedule a diagnostic evaluation (hearing testing) by an Audiologist, the proper medical professional credentialed to diagnose the type and cause of your hearing loss. Based on the assessment results, your Audiologist will either refer you to another specialist such as an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat physician), neurologist, or other provider when warranted, or if your hearing loss is a type that cannot be treated through medical or surgical intervention, hearing aids may be the appropriate treatment. If that is the case, your Audiologist has the expertise to make recommendations as which types of aids are most suitable for your particular hearing loss. They will take into account what will give you the most benefit for your individual listening needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Why do I need a hearing evaluation before getting hearing aids? 2016-12-09T14:05:05+00:00

Your Audiologist has the professional medical training and expertise to recognize which types of hearing loss respond best to medications or surgery, and which types are helped primarily by use of hearing aids. The Audiologist’s training gives them full understanding of appropriate testing procedures as well as the medical expertise to diagnose the results. (Non-Audiologist Hearing Aid Dealers lack the knowledge, expertise and credentials to diagnose hearing loss.) If hearing aids are the recommended treatment, their programming will need to be tailored specifically to the configuration of the hearing loss diagnosed at that time. Per FDA requirements, testing of hearing is to be done within 6 months prior to time the hearing aid is purchased.

Hearing aids are only one part of a responsible approach to addressing hearing loss. More important is the quality of the testing and counseling that accompanies the purchase. No one can provide you with ideal hearing aids without first conducting thorough and accurate hearing tests and asking the right questions about your needs and lifestyle. All states have licensure laws governing both Audiologists and non-Audiologist hearing aid dealers. Tests by hearing aid dealers are done in order to determine the need for hearing aids, however many state laws governing hearing aid dealers do not regulate whether they have the expertise for Unfortunately about half It is estimated that half of all Americans wearing hearing aids did not receive a proper evaluation before the instruments were fit. Without the crucial information these tests provide, the likelihood of success with a given instrument is extremely low.

In addition to a proper evaluation, setting realistic expectations about the performance of hearing aids is imperative. In the process of dispensing hearing aids, it is important that “selling” does not take precedence over healthcare. If the promises made by the dispenser seem too good to be true, they probably are!

For the appropriate testing, counseling, and fitting required for success with hearing aids you should see an Audiologist. An Audiologist is not merely a hearing instrument specialist trained to sell, but a professional educated in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of individuals with hearing loss.

If you suspect that you or someone you love has a hearing loss, call a qualified Audiologist today!

What questions should I ask before purchasing a hearing aid? 2016-12-09T14:07:10+00:00

Before you buy a hearing aid, ask your hearing professional these important questions:

  • What features are available? How would they be useful to me?
  • What is the total cost of the hearing aid?
  • Can they bill your insurance?
  • Is there a trial period to test the hearing aids?
  • What fees are nonrefundable if the aids are returned after the trial period?
  • How long is the warranty?
  • Can the warranty be extended?
  • Will loaner aids be provided when repairs are needed?
  • What instruction and services will the hearing professional provide?
Is it time for new hearing aids? 2016-12-09T14:08:47+00:00

Previously, new ‘generations’ of hearing aids came out about every 5 years or so. Now, with advances in technology, manufacturers are releasing new generations every 15-24 months. Though major changes may not be as noticeable from one generation to the next, after 2 or 3 new generations of hearing aids you can expect significant improvements and technological advances.

If you are thinking about new hearing aids, please call us at 907.789.6780 to schedule a consultation.

Can I obtain financial assistance for a hearing aid? 2016-12-09T14:06:41+00:00

If you plan to use medical insurance plan benefits to help pay for your hearing services and hearing instruments, it is important to know that only the testing provided by an Audiologist—not by a hearing aid dealer—can provide the diagnosis code that is required on insurance claims. (An Audiologist is the primary professional who is educated and qualified for the diagnosis, treatment, and management of individuals with hearing loss.)

Many Alaskans who have health insurance coverage also have of hearing benefits available to them. To find out what coverage you have, we recommend you read your insurance plan booklet or online document for details. You may also call your insurance plan administrator to ask about your hearing and hardware benefits. They should be able to tell you what coverage level you have, but unfortunately insurance administrator representatives have been known to give varying answers, so you may need to call more than once to compare. If you supply us your insurance information, we may also be able to call about your coverage. Please keep in mind that insurance administrators decline to provide a written quote, and that all quotes you or we receive are followed by a caveat stating “this is not a guarantee of payment.”

Alaskans who are Medicaid recipients, are likely to be covered for the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, including hearing aids when authorized. After we test your hearing, we will submit to the Medicaid program for approval for hearing aids if needed. As long as your coverage is current, you are unlikely to need to pay out-of-pocket for items covered by Medicaid.

Medicare does not cover hearing aids or tests to determine the need for hearing aids. Medicare will also not pay on diagnostic hearing evaluations unless referred by a physician or healthcare provider for each exam. Medicare also routinely does not pay for Audiology office visits, so either you the patient, or your insurance plan will need to pay for that portion of services.

Some individual funding sources may be available through state programs such as Alaska DVR (Department of Vocational Rehabilitation) when it is necessary that you hear well in order to remain employed, and you haven’t the means to pay for hearing services. Limited funding may also be available to someone who qualifies through an Alzheimer’s grant. Both of these programs will need to authorize individual funding before the hearing services are provided.

We also accept Care Credit.

Should I get two hearing aids? 2016-12-09T14:05:49+00:00

If your Doctor of Audiology tells you that you need two hearing aids, it’s best to follow his or her advice and not sell yourself short. In order to improve your ability to hear correctly and respond appropriately, it is generally ill-advised to wear only one hearing instrument and expect it to do the work of two.

Optimal hearing enlists the help of both ears. Not only does hearing well with both ears require less effort and allow you to enjoy a richer, more natural sound quality, but more importantly, your brain relies upon information from both ears in order to localize sound.

Localization (knowing where the sound came from) is only possible with two ears. Localization is not just a sound quality issue; it may also be a safety issue. Think about how important it is to know where warning and safety sounds (sirens, screams, babies crying, etc.) are coming from. Using both ears together (binaural listening) also impacts how well you hear in noise because it allows you to selectively attend to the desired signal, while “squelching” or paying less attention to undesired sounds, such as background noises.

Your auditory (hearing) system possesses an innate “use it or lose it” characteristic. Research has shown that if both ears are in need of hearing aids but only one ear is aided, the hearing ability of the unaided ear can start to deteriorate. The hearing nerve on the unaided side begins to lose its ability to correctly relay sound to the brain for processing. As a result, overtime the ability to understand speech begins to degrade. If neglected for long, this degradation may not be reversible.

Your hearing deserves good care. Although two hearing aids cost more than one, the benefits of having both ears aided if needed is a small price to pay for years of an improved quality of life.

When you lose your eyesight, you lose contact with things. When you lose your hearing, you lose contact with people.” Helen Keller

How do I care for my hearing aids? 2016-12-09T14:08:31+00:00

For most of us, purchasing hearing aids is a significant investment. However, with proper use and care, your investment will provide you with years of good hearing.

Hearing aid users should make it a habit to:

  • Clean hearing aids as instructed. Earwax and ear drainage can damage a hearing aid.
  • Have your hearing aids professionally cleaned by your Audiologist at least once a year.
  • Do not shower or swim with your hearing aids on.
  • Keep hearing aids away from heat and moisture.
  • Avoid using hairspray or other hair care products while wearing hearing aids.
  • Do not wear your hearing aids while sleeping.
  • If recommended for your type of hearing aids, put them in a hearing aid dryer at night to help fight moisture.
  • Turn off hearing aids when they are not in use.
  • Handle batteries with clean, dry hands.
  • After activating a new battery (removing the sticker) wait 2 minutes before putting it into your hearing aid. This allows time for it to fully active and can help maximize its power.
  • Replace dead batteries immediately to avoid possible battery corrosion.
  • Keep replacement batteries and small aids away from children and pets.

In this day and age, there is no reason to be unnecessarily hampered by problems related to hearing loss. If you meet the problem head on, your family and co-workers be appreciative and your brain will feel less “strained” too!

How can I adjust to my hearing aid? 2016-12-09T14:08:13+00:00

Much like prescription glasses, hearing aid won’t cure your hearing loss. However, new hearing aids aren’t as easy to get used to as glasses. Don’t be surprised if, at first, it all seems somewhat overwhelming. Getting used to hearing aids takes patience and practice.

Some people seem to leap right into amplification use. For others the process relearning to hear takes longer and requires added patience, dedication, and perseverance. Adults who have lost their hearing must learn to match the signals provided by their hearing aids to the speech sounds they heard and stored in their memory before losing their hearing. Even the most sophisticated hearing aids won’t provide maximum satisfaction unless the wearer is willing to work at learning to hear again. This can be a frustrating process; however with time and dedication, the hearing aid user will adapt to their new hearing aids and will enjoy better hearing.

Relearning to hear takes place in the brain. The ears provide a conduit for sound to enter the central nervous system but the brain must interpret these sounds. When amplification reintroduces sounds, the brain may become overwhelmed. The unfamiliar sounds may at first seem tinny or metallic, background noise may seem louder than usual, and the wearer may feel his or her own voice sounds different. New hearing aid users often discover that the world is a noisy place filled with sounds that they haven’t heard in a long time. Time and practice with their new amplification the hearing aid user will adapt to these sounds.

There are no set limits on how long this process will take. Research has shown that the listener’s ability to comprehend speech may continue to increase over a period of several months after being fit with new hearing aids. For some users this process will take place in as little as a few weeks, for others, it may require more time. Regardless of the amount of time, those who are most successful with hearing aids share similar characteristics; 1) a positive attitude, 2) a willingness to learn, 3) a commitment to good hearing, and 4) patience.

Relearning to hear also requires a good working relationship with an Audiologist. An Audiologist has the education and experience to help counsel the wearer through the relearning process and can provide many useful tips and suggestions that can help them to hear better. With patience, dedication, and ample guidance from an Audiologist, hearing instrument wearers will become a successful listeners.